Violation

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Someone has been in your house. Things are not like they were. Everything has been moved and touched and changed. You call the police and a good friend, but they keep asking what the intruders took. The scene is so confusing, so filled with emotion, that you can’t even think. All you know is that you have been violated. Someone messed with your life.

The police say they really can’t do much unless you can tell them what is missing. Your friend tries to calm you with the suggestion that the violation is less because you can’t see that anything has been stolen. Yet, you know things are gone. Things that used to be there, that used to be yours, are gone. Once the police leave, you and your friend start putting things back the way they were. But you can’t because you can’t find some of the important things. That’s when you begin to see what was taken.

Healing begins as you put your life back together. When you can name what was taken, verbalize the loss, it helps you work toward restoring your home. It’s the difference between saying, “Well, they took the TV,” and staring uncomprehendingly at the large blank spot on your wall. You make a list and start to find replacements. No, they won’t be the same, but they will again be yours. Life will be different, but normal settles in.

When you leave a relationship with a narcissist, you are almost certainly coming out of a crisis. When you look at your life, all you see is a mess. Confusion, grief, anger—a mess. Nothing is the same. Your emotions are all mixed up. If you have a good friend to stand with you, you might find things a little easier. But so many don’t have anyone. Even friends and family don’t understand. Those who want to help may not know how. And, of course, there are those who just want to blame, and they blame you. What they really want is for your crisis to be over for them. So, you have to try to put things back together yourself.

Narcissists take things from you. They touch everything in your life. Nothing is off limits or special. And they mess things up. They break things, move things, change things. The more important something was to you, the closer you held it to yourself, the more the narcissist wanted it. It is not unusual for victims to feel like they have been robbed. Yet, everything is such a mess that you can barely seen what’s gone.

One of my goals for this blog is to help people see life beyond the narcissist. For many, that will mean after the relationship is over. For some, it will be a rebuilding process while the relationship continues. Narcissistic relationships come in many shapes and forms. Not all are marriage or intimate relationships. Some are family. Some are work. Some are friendships. Some are even in church. All of them take precious things from your life. All of them can leave you in a mess.

Finding what they took and learning how to get those things back will be a process of restoration and growing health. So, over the coming weeks, I want to point out some things narcissistic relationships take from us. There are many. Some will relate to almost all personal relationships: marriage, family, friends. Some will connect with organizational or corporate relationships, like work or church. I want to look at these in the context of Christian experience, but there will be applications for anyone.

Not everyone has experienced the same losses, of course. Different narcissistic relationships take different things. Different narcissists seem to need different things. While some take your sense of peace with their many and unpredictable crises, others take your sense of adventure and leave you a life of drudgery. Some take concrete things, like savings accounts, while others take more spiritual things like hope. We will talk about these and others.

Feel free to comment and suggest topics, although I have a long list already. I would especially like to hear from those who have discovered precious parts of themselves that were taken away or lost in the narcissistic relationship, and how those have been restored to you.

17 Comments

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17 responses to “Violation

  1. Maya

    Excellent post! Exactly how it was…I was devalued, violated and discarded. There were some family members who supported me, but basically I recovered myself through intensive spiritual work with God. He drew near to me in my anguish as I cried out to Him every night.
    I encourage anyone reeling from this insidious violation to do exactly that…seek God fervently, cry to Him. Its the only way to reclaiming normalcy and a healthy mind.
    My spirit was so broken. Now I have a wonderful life without fear and stress.
    This site has been immensely helpful. Thank you Pastor Dave.

  2. Carl Feather

    Absolutely accurate description. I am still taking inventory and healing, but so much was lost to this person who never apologized but simply went riding off into the sunrise with a smirk on her face as she started her new wonderful life. She was my second encounter with a narc and both narcs left my life in a shamble. Rebuilding is so hard. I am tired and some days just want to sit and cry. So much lost, materially, emotionally and timewise. But I gained spiritual understanding of God and evil.

  3. onmyway

    So I am in the midst of finalizing my divorce with my narcissist husband..

    Is it normal to swing back and forth between healing and then falling back into despair? The divorce process hasn’t been as smooth as I hoped based on the fact that my husband said he was so sorry and would do whatever he could to change..

    I recently had a court date to settle kids visitation and I feel like he took over the narrative and I almost felt like the “bad guy”

    I had conceded on a lot until now to avoid conflict but now that we are at the end there are certain things I want to fight for but I’m not sure it is worth fighting for…

    I just want to be free of him..

    I had been healing and detaching but My body has recently gone back into fight/flight mode..

    Is this normal? I keep thinking there is something wrong with me

    • Yes! Others here will attest that the pendulum sometimes swings so fast that you worry about it flying off. Some, of course, bought the “I’m sorry” line and found themselves deeper in trouble than before. Some went back more than once or twice. Others worked to maintain their anger just so they could keep moving forward, no matter how much it drained them. What you are experiencing is normal. Please don’t add to the problems by beating yourself up. Understand that your emotions are a mess, that you long for an end that isn’t yet, and that there are forces at work that want to destroy you. (Actually, that sounds a lot like the common Christian life no one wants to talk about.) But there is love and peace to help you through.

      I hope others will chime in.

    • I’m so sorry you are going through this. I have been there, and I went through exactly what you describe: periods of healing and detaching, and then going right back into fight/flight mode.

      Please, for your sake and for the sake of your children, be very gentle with yourself right now. Give yourself permission to grieve, to not know everything, to not be perfect, to be human. One thing that helped me a lot when I was going through it, was when someone asked me: “What would you say to a friend right now if she was going through this and having these ‘crazy’ thoughts and emotions? Wouldn’t you be understanding and compassionate with her? You need to be understanding and compassionate with yourself. Be your own friend.”

      I found that to be great advice! Also, as a Christian, I held on to scriptures in the Bible that talk about how precious we are to Christ. I focused on who I am in Christ Jesus. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, I am His beloved. I am redeemed, my sins are covered by His grace, and I am a new creation in Christ. Satan is a liar and narcissists are liars, but God’s word is forever TRUE.

      I am praying for you right now. This terrible time will pass. Today, I am the happiest and healthiest that I have ever been. Praise God!

      • Onmyway

        Did you guys continue to work- were you working right away? I started part-time work as a substitute teacher and I have friends who keep encouraging me to hurry up and get back to work full-time but I don’t feel ready

      • I was a newly licensed nurse when my previous marriage fell apart. I got a job working at an alcohol and drug rehab clinic, which turned out to be far too stressful for me at that time. I stopped working to save my sanity. Luckily, I was able to survive financially without having to work, until after the divorce was final. Then I got an office job, because I still wasn’t ready to go back to the stress of nursing.

        I think it really depends on the individual, on what you can do, what drains you versus what gives you the strength to get up in the morning and keep going. Going to 12 step meetings on a regular basis helped me a lot. I don’t think I would still be here if I hadn’t had that support.

    • Maya

      Onmyway- your emotions will probably be all over the place for a while. Totally normal, especially when he starts with the “sorry” lies. I think he’s saying it to get you to concede stuff in your divorce.
      I too, just wanted to be free and clear…very determined to do so. I conceded some minor financial things which I had already paid. Not worth it to argue back and forth through lawyers.
      Pray, pray and pray some more. God will show you what to do.
      Re: working…again, do what is best for YOU. Take excellent care of yourself, like Linda said. Rest a lot. Read…whatever makes you happy. There’s nothing wrong with you.

  4. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Once again you have verbalized the damage from a narcissistic relationship. You have hit the nail on the head, helped me to identify and wrap my mind around the losses that confusion seems to have blinded me to. Your posts are so appreciated and bring a light to a very dark tunnel, even for a long-time Christian. Especially for a Christian, who is trying to do the right thing by Christ but gets so muddled in the wearying and constantly extreme neediness of these people. Not to mention the deceit, outright lies, favoritism, often evil-hearted, and off the charts self-focus of one like my mother.

  5. Suzanne

    I do not know the word for what narcissism took from me. I don’t know what to name it. The best I can do is describe it. It flipped my perceptions. It took away the ability to discern when something was bad for me. The narcissists were always right, so I was always wrong. Wrong to question, feel pain, say no. Being used and exploited were considered good. The only way I figured out something was wrong was when I went to counseling for extreme self-hatred. I didn’t know where it was coming from. I didn’t know the system narcissists live by was flawed. This loss has been slowly restored to me as I have had to be taught the basics of what is the right and wrong way for a person to treat you. I honestly had no idea. It is all so blurry to me. I accepted terrible behavior because I thought it was ok and that I was the problem for feeling any pain about it.

  6. Mama

    (Please do not publish my email address, just “Mama”)
    Thank you so much Dave, for the support your writing has given me the past four years. Here is my tale of woe: I am free almost a year now, after 33 years. I was left drained and depleted, emotionally and financially. I was left not trusting my own sense of reality, as he used to do really strange things to me.
    For example: I have an excellent memory and am very organised, plus I would always without fail would hang my car keys on the key holder. Then we would want to drive somewhere and they would not be there. I would search my handbag at his suggestion and find no keys. He would say, I think I saw them on the kitchen table or maybe on the microwave. I would go and search. Find nothing. Come back, he would say just check your handbag again. And there they would be – my keys. Then he would tell me something like: my mind is slipping, did I remember my medication, did I perhaps take too much medication?
    It took me a long time of thinking I am crazy to catch on, and after starting to photograph everything with date and time, and one particular crazy-making incident that made me go to a hypnotherapist, I realised no I am not crazy, I remember correctly, he is playing games with me. Deep shock.
    And then the never-ending lies and deceit, the constant emotional coldness, the long spells of no eye contact, no talking. The angry rages, when he would slash me to the soul with his words, hissing in my face, his spit all over me. And always present, the total contempt for me on his face and in his voice. A man with no feelings and no empathy. A man to whom everybody but his own magic hand-picked little circle are useless idiots. A man who called his staff a bunch of cockroaches in a meeting. A man who was NEVER wrong, never apologised, I was wrong and unstable for reacting to his abuse. Death by a thousand emotional cuts. And you become so mesmerised, so traumatised, it is difficult to break away.
    I am more or less on my feet now, not on antidepressants and anxiety medication any more, but it will take a long time for the trauma to fully heal. I simply believe God is carrying me when I cannot walk on my own. I have learned to give over to Him. I hope He will help me trust other people’s goodness again.
    My biggest loss is focused around my children. Their father sowed so much mistrust and poison in our family. Especially since I stopped pampering his ego and being his house slave. The two older ones hate each other, as he played them off against each other. They are also estranged from me, due to his alienation work, especially the oldest – he used her as emotional partner and put her in the place where I should have been. This was very damaging to her, and to our relationship.
    He was deeply enmeshed with his mother, and then turned that enmeshment to his oldest daughter. He thought it was great to be his children’s best buddy and use his underage teenagers as drinking pals, getting falling down drunk with them and the “party” turning to coarse and vulgar “jokes”. When I protested and tried to stop it, I was a party pooper and the children saw me as the Enemy, not wanting them to bond with their father or have fun.
    It was difficult for me to keep tabs on all this while it happened – I was a cash cow, responsible for funding the shortfall of an extravagant budget the setting of which I had no control over. I went without sleep at least three nights a week to generate the work product that brought in the money – fortunately I was in a highly sought after niche.
    He is a pornography addict, which hurt me deeply and left me feel used and degraded. A really bad STD eventually shocked me awake and caused me to end our relationship while still married. I have been celibate many, many years, which was difficult in the beginning – I have had no desire or appetite for intimate relations for a very long time even before the ending, but had severe, painful skin hunger – but it now suits me just fine. Plan to live celibate for the rest of my life.
    The beginning of the end of this story was that I had a near-fatal stress heart attack and could not work any more as a result of it, and that is when he unleashed his full fury on me and turned the children completely against me. I had NO emotional and very limited physical support from my family in the time following the heart attack. In fact, he induced the children to help him abuse me (the crazy. emotionally unstable, paranoid, selfish mother pretending her heart attack was a big thing, trying to make everything about herself), they pushed me completely from the family circle. and then he proceeded to steal my professional insurance payout.
    His reign of chaos ended when he was caught out in fraud and theft, and lost his professional practising licence. All three children are emotionally shattered. One severely obese and neurotic, other one severely anorexic and neurotic. Youngest one got off with the least damage although she has clinical depression, he showed little interest in triangulating her into his sick dynamics. In fact she got a fair amount of abuse from him herself, which caused her to see his true colours instead of the charming, long-suffering, kind, patient, wise, protective, dependable old dad-front he presented to the other two. Her eyes have opened, she worked out what was going on, she apologised to me, and she is the only one with whom I have a close, loving, mutually respectful and supportive relationship.
    Nothing I can do about the older two – they are beyond my reach. All I can do is pray for them, and for him, because thank God I am there where I only feel compassion for him and them, although I love them deeply and always will. I cannot blame them at all – it took me decades to understand his mental illness. How can manipulated children / young adults see it?
    If you can write about how abusive men alienate children from their mother, undermine the mother’s discipline, teach the children to disrespect and ridicule her, and what we can do to realise it in time and take measures against it to protect our children, or heal us and them afterwards, it would be great.
    And to conclude my tale of woe I want to add a disclaimer – I fully acknowledge and accept the role I and my decisions and actions and reactions played to help create this mess. I am not perfect either. As they say, Hitler seldom marries Mother Theresa.

    • I am on my phone and it is hard to write much, certainly not all I would like to say. Please know that you are loved and accepted here. I grieve at your loss, so much pain. I will say one thing. Narcissists connect with people who make them look good. You brought a lot of value into the relationship. Don’t minimize that by disparaging yourself. If Hitler thought he could do it and make everyone look up to him, he would certainly marry Mother Theresa. Look to Jesus and know that he loves you very much. You have great value to Him.

      • Mama

        Thank you. I am now free to openly follow Jesus without being ridiculed for it and to see my family and friends without hearing a constant commentary of contemptuous belittling and disparaging of them. I am grateful neither Jesus nor my loved ones forgot about or forsake me. Amazing Grace!

  7. SaraJane

    Thank you so much for your clarity and godly wisdom. You ALWAYS help me on my road to healing.

    I lost a sense of myself. He would take my dreams and ideas and opinions and thoughts and call them his own. And even share them with other people saying, “I had an idea….” or “I’ve always wanted to….” or “I think the Bible explains….”

    It was strange and confusing when I would hear MY self come out of HIS mouth. Separation has helped me see that my identity is my own.

  8. Cecilia K

    I think I would say my (now ex-) NBF took my confidence in my judgment, my sense of stability/reality, and as you said, Pastor Dave, my peace. There are probably other things he took, but those are the things that initially come to mind.

    God restored all that to me through this blog and the others that this blog led me to, where I learned about narcissism and discovered that there is a huge community of people who have suffered the same trauma. Learning about narcissism and knowing I am not alone in what I went through reassured me that I am not crazy, that what I remember happening, actually happened. It restored my faith in my judgment, my sense of stability/reality, and my peace. And once again, I thank you, Pastor Dave.

    And as long as I’m here, although this isn’t totally related to the topic, I just want to share… So a year or two after we had broken up, I got a FR on FB from my N ex-bf. Although I wasn’t sure I should, I went ahead and accepted it, I think because my heart had softened toward him somewhat. I thought maybe he might try to worm his way back into my heart and life, but to his credit, he didn’t. In fact, I don’t recall him trying to contact me once since I accepted the request… until I disconnected from him.

    Shortly after accepting, even though he was behaving himself, I still wished I hadn’t and considered disconnecting from him (again), but in order to avoid any potential drama/nasty emails, I just kept the connection. Well, a few months ago, he started posting a lot of “memes” (I hate that word), and two of them made me ill, because although there was valuable truth in them, he had no business posting them, because he didn’t live by the principles the “memes” were promoting.

    After that, I started to revisit the idea of disconnecting from him. I have no reason to be connected to this man, I thought, and besides, I am not doing him any favors by allowing him to be in my life even a little bit, when he has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing in our relationship. I considered the risk that he might lash out at me for disconnecting from him, but this time, I didn’t care, so I blocked him. For a few weeks, nothing happened. Then one day, my sister tells me that “Craig” messaged my brother-in-law, asking him if I was okay, because he noticed that I hadn’t been posting much recently (I hardly ever post anything, although I may occasionally comment on others’ posts). Then, about 5-10 minutes after she tells me that, “Craig” texts me! He says he hopes it’s okay that he texts me, and that he hopes “all is well” because he noticed I was “offline”.

    In the past, I may have felt the need to respond, but not this time. I ignored his text, and I gotta say, it feels kind of freeing. = )

    I just find it curious that we were connected online for probably about two years give or take, and he didn’t reach out to me once, that I can remember, and then all of a sudden he discovers that I’ve disconnected and wants to know how I’m doing? Not sure I buy it. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this, but it occurred to me that if he is still in a custody battle with his ex-wife, maybe he was using me to be able to say to the courts, “Hey look, I’m still friends with my ex-gf, so I can’t be a bad guy, right?” That’s just speculation, but knowing how N’s like to use people, it seems like a plausible explanation. And now I’ve taken away that layer of his good guy veneer.

  9. rembrandt2

    Thank you for this post! I am married to a narcissist, but separated for eleven years. The mother-in-law was also a narcissist, I believe. So much damage was done to my family and gradually over time I began to see the cost in my own life -loss of health, happiness, hope…. I began attending a church which began every service with songs of praise, promises and hope. I wept during the singing for many months. It took time and there is still fallout in the lives of my children but God has blessed in many ways. I have two sweet granddaughters and my youngest son, a pharmacist now lives with me. We have similar personalities and enjoy each other’s company. While my husband seemed to ruin every dinner date or vacation with hurtful comments, threats and demands, my son and I enjoy many outings. I pray that someday my son will meet and marry a special someone, but for the moment he is a blessing in my life!

  10. Singing Eagle

    OMG!!! It was healing just to read your post!! It’s like WOW, I’m not making these things up! It really does happen to others! Even when others say they understand, you know they only understand the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. …. What was stolen from me was the identity of who I had not yet even discovered because my mother was a narc too! Adopting a mindset resembling close to a “rug”, even the religion I was initially taught was to serve and be submissive no matter what. After feeling like all the life was sucked out of me, my mental stability was totally fractured and my physical health screaming with varied illnesses, by the grace of God, He helped me find a way to not only survive but to thrive. I left my narc but returned due to a severe stroke suffered a few years ago. I felt it only the right thing to do but my “weapons” of survival (I still use) were things I learned over the years that helped me live a more healthier life. The main one is staying connected to spiritually to the Lord and healthy people in the body of Christ. The one thing I continue to struggle with is the feeling of being robbed of a better life. All that I am and was, was wasted on someone who seemed to not care less about all that was sacrificed. Every so often, I cry uncontrollably for a short time for the years I gave with nothing in return. The main good thing are my kids, helping minister to people who suffer the same pain and the appreciation for those who have a loving spouse.

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